The Daily Times
BY Marshal Madise
09:19:29 - 23 July 2008
At a time when the world is grappling with profound problems such as epidemics, wars, skyrocketing food prices and many other problems, climate change is yet another global cause for concern and if left unchecked could send the world into a further abyss of catastrophe.
There is overwhelming scientific evidence that says greenhouse gas emissions lead to climate change. Climate change has far-reaching effects on human life and it affects all people in the world regardless of how one uses the US dollar in a day.
In simple logic, a subsistence farmer in Nambuma could pay the price of climate change created by someone using an automobile in Arizona, United States of America.
Climate change affects temperature, rainfall and water availability, which in turn could lead to drought, floods, storms, hurricanes and many other undesirable consequences. This could have adverse effects on food security, ecosystem and human health that could further lead to malnutrition in under-five children, a majority of these, already dying of Malaria in sub-Saharan African countries. This could inevitably impede on the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Countries in the Sadc region, Malawi inclusive, have had their fair share of climate change effects. Early this year, there were floods that wrecked havoc in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Here in Malawi, floods that killed four people and left 70,000 homeless reared their ugly faces in the Shire valley early this year. Cases of inadequate rains and severe droughts are the order of the day in some parts of the country.
However, the question to think about is, what are we doing as Malawians in fighting climate change? It is disheartening to note that we are not doing enough in fighting climate change despite government commitment to combat climate change.
The government in March 2006 came up with a course of action called the National Adaptation Programme for Action (Napa), which strives to address the issue of climate change. The government is also implementing the National Sustainable Renewable Energy Programme (NSREP), which focuses on giving renewable energy sources to rural households. The government also established the four-month national forestry season with the aim of planting more trees in the country.
However, what is worrying is that much as the government is putting in place several mechanisms to mitigate climate change, the trend has not yet changed among many Malawians. It seems we have not yet changed the way we produce and use energy despite the efforts on the part of government. Many Malawians are still felling trees for charcoal and fuel wood without replanting them and this has made Malawi to have the highest deforestation rate in the whole Southern African region. Many Malawians are still finding it hard to embrace renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind, biogas, and gel fuel just to mention a few. Nowadays, there are also vehicles that are driven using ethanol instead of oil to avoid carbon gas emissions but Malawi is lagging behind in embracing these state of the art vehicles.
The other worrisome development is that our development partners are not giving us much technical as well as financial support to assist us in combating climate change. However, when all is said and done, they are the ones that shoulder the blame on the effects of climate change happening now because they emitted many green house gases during Industrial Revolution. Furthermore, their countries have many cars and industries and this translates into more greenhouse gas emissions.
Finally, I want to agree with UNDP’s Human Development Report of 2007/08, which says climate change is a global problem and everyone’s responsibility. Let me also applaud the G8 leaders for showing commitment to fight climate change as demonstrated by the recently occurred summit. Time has come for us to lead a responsible life to create a free-problem environment for future generations. Otherwise, we would be manufacturing a time bomb that could one day have disastrous consequences on the globe.
MARSHAL MADISE, lILONGWE
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